Bloodshot, the Vin Diesel-led adaptation of the Valiant Comics character isn’t anything that you haven’t seen before. Our protagonist, Ray Garrison, being ripped from a digital façade to be shown the true reality of his world. Bloodshot isn’t the Matrix. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun.
Bloodshot explored the origins of the character created in 1992 by Valiant Comics. Ray Garrison is a solider who watches his wife executed in front of him just before he himself shares the same fate. Bang! He wakes up in Guy Pearce’s Dr. Emil Harting’s lab a year later, alive, kicking, and with billions of microscopic robots having replaced his blood. Through the nanotechnology in his veins, Garrison becomes unstoppable. He can heal from any injury in moments, his strength is enhanced, the nanites can interface with the internet and any computer network to download the information that Garrison needs in seconds, flying a plane, tracking a target, you name it.
What works both for this story and against this story is the wonderfully kinetic pacing this film has. Your sense gets immediately assaulted right from the start with Garrison leading a rescue mission in Kenya and then which eventually leads Garrison tied to a chair in a meat locker watching Toby Kebbell’s Martin Axe dancing to Psycho Killer who then executes both Garrison and his wife. Bloodshot feels like a throwback to action movies of the ’90s with how fast Garrison gets control of his abilities, finds his wife’s killer, finding out that he’s been used for a very long time. It’s not a film that you can walk into expecting a Marvel or DC joint. Bloodshot is short on story, you never really get the chance to engage with these characters, or even have a moment to breathe.
While you don’t have the opportunity to let this story breathe, what you do have time for is a beat down. First time director, Dave Wilson keeps the focus entirely on Garrison moving to his next objective and what’s between him and that objective. Very much a good guy vs bad guy story, Bloodshot doesn’t disappoint as Wilson builds his tempo thanks a great eye built from years designing video game trailers and feature film effects scenes to his casting.
Every hero is only as good as their villain and Sam Heughan more than delivers that. Playing formal a SEAL with cybernetic legs that’s employed by Harting, Jimmy Dalton. Despite being smaller in size, Heughan’s Dalton drips overconfidence and intensity and to his credit, Heughan actually will get you believing that he can beat down someone of Diesel’s size.
Diesel never quite gets the credit he deserves as an actor. On a movie set a lifetime ago, Steven Spielberg watches a movie written, directed, and starring Diesel called Strays that would not only convince Spielberg to cast him in a small film of his, Saving Private Ryan, but also allow him to direct a scene in the film. Diesel manages to do a lot with a little in this film as Garrison struggles with digital reality with his actual reality. But where he excels in this story is his performance the more he turns into the full Bloodshot. Playing a lot with body and action language, he projects a feeling of calmness which juxtaposed against Heughan’s intensity creates a very, very fun climax.
Having only been acting since 2007, Eiza González has built a hell of a c/v having roles in the Dusk Till Dawn series, Baby Driver, Alita: Battle Angel, Hobbs and Shaw, and will next be seen in Godzilla vs. Kong. And the reason is, she’s good at what she does. Playing a cybernetically enhanced former Navy diver, KT, she functions a lot as the voice of the audience in this story. Often times, the mortality in this immoral corporation. González has more than proved she can hold her own against the alpha dogs in the action movie world, it’s a lot of fun watching her not budge under the intense and driven stare from Heughan. It speaks to how good of an actor Guy Pearce is that he can believably be the most likable guy to slimeball from film to film. Very much the object that turns our world upside down, Pearce plays the doctor with a very loud and proud power trip. Boasting his own Doctor Strangelove cybernetic arm and a heavy dose of narcissism, he’s smarter than you and you’re going to recognize that about him. Or he’ll make you recognize that about him.
As short on the story as Bloodshot is, this film has no end of action and tempo. And thanks to Dave Wilson’s history with visual effects, this film looks unbelievably good. Despite the film using pretty much every sci-fi trope ever made, I’m actually willing to put out that Wilson created a pretty original effect with his nanites. Bloodshot’s injuries look downright painful. This future world he’s built is visually stunning in the city, the look of the film, the cybernetics these characters have. If this world wasn’t so fantastical, you’d b hard pressed to realize it’s CGI. Leading up to a full-on bloodshot from the books that are a crow pleasing, well worth the weight moment.
Bloodshot represents Sony’s valiant attempt at starting a shared comic book universe with the Valiant characters. And because this film was one of the last to be released in theatres as the COVID-19 hit and was subsequently tossed onto digital, this universe might not actually happen. And that would be a tremendous disappointment because Bloodshot is a classic throw down in a modern world that has a lot of potential to build on.
And it’s important to point out that while I keep saying this film hasn’t done anything that hasn’t been done before, it never rips anything off. Wilson and these filmmakers use them and weave them into this story in a lot of ways and nods that make Bloodshot a hell of a lot of fun and well worth 3 out of 5 stars.